Characterisation of AtPNP-A - a novel arabidopsis thaliana gene with role in water and salt homeostasis
MetadataShow full item record
Plant natriuretic peptides (PNPs) are a novel class of extracellular, systemically mobile molecules that elicit a number of plant responses important in homeostasis and growth. Natriuretic peptides were first identified in vertebrates where they play a role in the regulation of salt and water balance. Subsequent experimental investigations have identified the presence of a natriuretic peptide hormone system in plants. While PNPs have been implicated in various physiological responses such as stomatal guard cell movements and regulation of net water uptake, its biological role has remained elusive. Here we have used co-expression and promoter content analysis tools to understand the biological role of the Arabidopsis thaliana PNP (AtPNP-A). The analysis of AtPNP-A and its co-expressed genes revealed that genes annotated as part of the systemic acquired resistance (SAR) pathway were over-represented, thus suggesting that AtPNP-A may function as a component of plant defense responses and specifically, SAR. The results further show that AtPNP-A shares many characteristics with pathogenesis related (PR) proteins in that its transcription is strongly induced in response to pathogen challenges, thus implying a newly described role for AtPNP-A in pathogen attack. Additional tissue expression analysis also indicated distinct localization of PNP activity in sepals and transcriptional meta-analysis showed that AtPNP-A may play a role in starch breakdown. Therefore, together with the finding that AtPNP-A plays a role in regulating phloem transport, we also hypothesize that AtPNP-A may play a role in phloem unloading in sepals to assist processes such as seed formation in plants. In plants, the second messenger, guanosine 3’,5’-cyclic monophosphate (cGMP) mediates a whole range of important processes including salinity tolerance, disease resistance, drought tolerance and responses to light. Since PNPs regulate water and salt homeostasis via a cGMP-dependent signaling pathways, it is thus important to analyse the transcriptome induced by the second messenger (cGMP) in Arabidopsis thaliana to give a better understanding of its mechanism of action. This study was also supplemented by the analysis of the gibberellic acid (GA) dependent transcriptome, since cGMP also plays a role its transcription pathway. This data analysis, together with promoter content investigation, revealed that genes upregulated after cGMP treatment and down-regulated in the GA insensitive mutant (ga1-3) were enriched with a GA response element (GARE), while no GARE enrichment were observed in genes up-regulated in the ga1-3 mutant. These findings suggest that GARE is indicative of GA-induced and cGMP-dependent transcriptional up-regulation. Gene ontology analysis confirmed previous reports that cGMP is involved in ion homeostasis and indicated that the transcriptional cGMP response is bi-polar in the sense that both genes up- and down-regulated in response to cGMP is involved in cation transport. Additionally, ab initio analysis of genes transcriptionally dependent on cGMP identified CHX8 as a hub gene and promoter content of CHX8 co-expressed genes show enrichment of the GARE motif. The fact that CHX8 has its highest expression levels during male gametogenesis and pollen tube growth, together with our findings, suggest that GA-induced and cGMP- dependent genes may play a key role in ion and water homeostasis in the male gametophyte. Finally, we propose that the type of analysis undertaken here can yield new insights into gene regulation networks and inform experimental strategies to unravel complex transcription regulatory systems under different developmental and stimulus specific conditions.